Interrupting the forgetting – Last lesson, Last week, Last month

CaptureCan you still? A simple question but one which unlocked a journey into Sanderstorm and Bjork, moving beyond PERformative assessment and a beautiful journey with interrupting the forgetting – bringing evidence informed practice into the classroom.

My story starts with an encounter with a slide on my colleague’s whiteboard. It contained a simple slide with three words Can you still?


Below this, three questions. I was curious to unpick this further. What unfolded was that the slide was used regularly to revisit content. The questions were random and it wasn’t used with consistency. However, the wonderful thing it did do was revisit prior learning. I was fascinated by this and its impact on the way a lesson could begin and the idea of revisiting learning. So it began. Can you Still drew me into a wonderful and whirlwind romance with research around retrieval – most notably Sanderstorm and Bjork. How could I marry evidence to inform my practice?

I engaged myself in a cycle of reflection (or perhaps it better to say I became evidence informed) through the work of Sanderstorm and Bjork. The abstract had me hooked – the principle of instruction long term retention!


At this point we should consider: what works is the wrong question- it’s what works for whom and in what context. As Daniel Muijs says ‘Not all evidence is equally translated into practice.’ Therefore where would I apply the theory, when and how? Answering these questions would allow me to engage in the learning zone – deliberately practice my craft using evidence to drive it forward. To engage in developing something; to develop long term retention.

So I settled on good place to start – the arithmetic paper. It is 36% of the Maths paper. This is where I would translate the research into practice. By interrupting the forgetting of these skills, I believed I could impact the children’s scores in the arithmetic test.

So Can you Still evolved into a well-tuned vehicle. One which interrupted the forgetting – an informed cycle of distributed practice. It became a series of questions at the beginning of each lesson: Last Lesson, Last week, Last month. . The child of Can you Still driven by evidence but working in context.

Primary classroom application examples

Here is the timetable that drove last lesson, last week, last month forward.

As well as the timetable there is also an image of how it was presented into the classroom.  Simple timetable Monday to Friday three questions.



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